-- Who's in charge here?
The answer to that question informs the quality of most enterprises.
Those running basketball operations for an NBA team -- we usually know them as general managers or team presidents, or more generally as front offices -- are responsible for personnel decisions, managing the salary cap, overseeing the team's scouting efforts and serving as the public faces and ambassadors of the franchise.
We asked our ESPN Forecast panel to rate the NBA's 30 front offices on their overall effectiveness. Here's what we came up with:
Which front offices led the way?
After taking first place in our owners survey, the San Antonio Spurs are now 2-for-2, as our panel ranked team president Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford as the league's best front office.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley scored the decade's biggest coup in the summer of 2010 when he assembled the Heat's current championship core, and he came in second in our survey. Riley was followed closely by Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who cut his teeth in the San Antonio organization.
Which front office brought up the rear?
Six years removed from assembling a team that appeared in its sixth consecutive Eastern Conference finals, Detroit Pistons president Joe Dumars was rated the worst front office executive in the NBA.
Next were the Cleveland Cavaliers, who installed David Griffin as the interim general manager only eight weeks ago. Griffin might be highly regarded among league insiders, but the panel still sees the team's situation as a mess and ranked the Cavs No. 27. The Washington Wizards claimed their first playoff berth in years, but that didn't help their general manager, Ernie Grunfeld, who ranked No. 26 in the poll.
How much did team success this season correlate with ranking?
A fair amount, but the panel looked past performance in several instances.
Take the Boston Celtics, who are closing in on a 55-loss season. They were rewarded for their rebuilding efforts with the No. 6 spot in the rankings for president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
How did the analytics-minded execs fare?
Pretty well. The Spurs might look like an old-school shop, but the organization employs as much innovation as any in the league. The aforementioned Presti and Morey finished in the top five, and the Celtics and Dallas Mavericks in the top 10. Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies' crew that includes John Hollinger came in at No. 13.
More telling, not one of the bottom 10 front offices, with the possible exception of the Denver Nuggets (No. 25), can be fairly characterized as data-driven.
How do panelists perceive Phil Jackson's move to New York?
They're taking a wait-and-see approach, ranking the Knicks No. 21.